Fonticulus Fides

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Drought Update & Random Musings

Despite so much snow this winter, we are still in a first-stage drought, and at our parish every day, we pray together for the safe arrival of more moisture.

I was talking to my father-in-law the other day, marveling that at one point, he had more than two feet of snow on the ground all over his farm, yet he gained less than an inch and a half of ground moisture from it. That’s because snow mostly evaporates in the wind and sun, especially when the temperatures are too low to cause much melting off. And, as my father-in-law said, it was a "dry snow" – each inch of snow was only equivalent to less than a tenth of an inch of rain to begin with.

Back in the horse-drawn days, farmers used to plow under late winter/early spring snowfalls, because it was the only way to ensure that they’d get close to the full amount of moisture from snow. I don’t hear about farmers doing that anymore. Anyway, my father-in-law has a no-till operation, so he doesn’t have the equipment to turn soil as it is.

The sky is brilliant blue today, and the trees are full of bright new leaves nodding in a gentle breeze. We had a bit of a sprinkle in the early morning, the kind that gives the air that fresh-washed smell. Zooey watched a bird pluck a worm from the front lawn and fly off rapidly. I suspect it was a male bird bringing breakfast to his pregnant partner who is warming a few eggs in a nest somewhere nearby.

The yard has greened up, and the parched spots where the grass died in last year’s drought have filled in with weeds already. If I tried to get rid of all the weeds, I’d either be faced with mostly dirt in my backyard or an enormous water bill from trying to keep grass alive. I’ll take the weeds, thanks. My husband tries to keep them mowed down so they don’t go to seed and infect the neighbors.

Edyn has mastered the climbing set we got for a song at a garage sale years ago. And her devotion to it has renewed Zooey’s interest in it, too. We go out in the backyard as often as we can so they can climb up, down, around and through it. Laurel sits on my lap in a lawn chair, peering out from under her floppy hat as she chomps on one fist.

Zooey asked if we can plant a garden again this year. Corn, tomatoes, and peppers. He’ll only eat the corn, so I’m not sure why he asked for tomatoes and peppers, though I’ll surely put some in, if I can find the time to plant at all. I had to skip last year – too much morning sickness. But Edyn’s already as big as Zooey was the first time he helped with our garden, and Zooey is capable of doing more. It shouldn’t take much to get the garden going again.

Maybe I’ll try green beans again. One year, I planted "three sisters" – a native American approach to companion planting. Corn, pole beans and squash all go into the same mound. Each plant takes different nutrients from the soil and puts back what the other two need. The beans twine up the corn stalks and the squash leaves cover the ground so that the weeds don’t come up. Except the year I tried it, I lost the squash to squash vine bores – my garden is organic, and I haven’t found a good remedy for squash vine bores yet. And the beans I planted came up woody and bitter, though I tried to pick them at all different diameters to catch them while they were still sweet. Must have got a bad lot of bean seeds.

Zooey suggested pumpkins, too. I’ve never tried to grow a pumpkin, but I imagine anything is possible. I tried to grow watermelon once, but I made the mistake of planting it in the coolest part of my garden, thinking that fruit needed less heat and more shade. I didn’t know that watermelon comes from Africa, and it needs lots and lots of heat to grow. Sandy soil, too, so I’d have to amend a patch for that. But it would be worth it to have fresh, sweet watermelon outside my door.

The baby sighs and leans heavily back against my chest, ready for a nap. Edyn scrambles to the top of the climbing set, turns her face into the wind and throws out her arms, giggling. Zooey drops a fistful of dandelions in my lap and runs off for another boyish adventure (hunting for garter snakes, I’m guessing). I shut my eyes and take a deep breath, listening to the chirps of random birds, and I believe. I believe God answers prayers. I pray He will answer the prayer of your heart today. And I hope He will answer the one weighing on me, clearly and soon.


P.S. Thanks to St. Anthony for praying with my husband that he would find two important things that were lost. Both found within a day – more reason to trust that God hears us and answers us.

P.P.S. Why exactly is St. Anthony the one we go to for prayers in finding lost things?


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